chapter  11
20 Pages

“They Do Not Know the Use of Men”: The Absence of Sodomy in Medieval Accounts of the Far East

Bret Hinsch begins his pioneering study of homosexuality in Chinese history with this assertion:

When western travelers first described Chinese society to their fellow Europeans they lavished ecstatic praise on many aspects of Chinese culture, including efficient government administration, awe-inspiring public works, and the opulent and sophisticated life-styles of the upper classes. Early European commentators even added Chinese moral values to their idealistic panegyric. But one aspect of Chinese society received strident condemnation and scorn from these first adventurers: homosexuality. For them, the popularity of the “abominable vice of sodomy” was an unforgivable flaw in an otherwise admirable society.1